It is no figure of speech to say that the problem of unemployment is hanging like a sword of Damocles on the head of our country Workless people are always dangerous to the security of the State. The “fire of stomach”, as it is said, can lead them to commit any crime in the calendar. If they are not given a job by which they may earn their living honestly, they will have no other alternative than beg their food,
“Or with a base and boisterous sword enforce,
A thievish living on the common road.”
Unemployment is the mother of measureless ills. It is a poison, it pollutes society and wrecks the political fabric of the country. It creates Jean Valjean; it turns law-abiding and honest men into criminals and dacoits. It encourages dishonesty, patronizes corruption, glorifies falsehood, and brings into light the dark side of human character. It is difficult to expect truth, nobility, and honesty from a person who cannot have two square meals a day, and who cannot provide a morsel of food or a dose of medicine to his sick. wife or ailing children. He can have no sense of self-dignity for he has no sense of security, “A plowman on his feet,” says Franklin, “is higher than a gentleman on his knees.” A long spell of poverty and unemployment is a great menace to the State. It creates discontent; discontent generates disaffection, disaffection breeds sedition, and sedition may culminate in a revolution. It is, therefore, the first and foremost duty of a State to give employment to its citizens and keep them busy doing some work or other so that they may have no time to nourish unhealthy, disaffectionate and seditious thoughts. According to Sir W. Beveridge, ‘it is “better to employ them on digging holes and filling them up again than not to employ them at all.”
Although the problem of unemployment is not new for our country, yet what makes us feel more disturbed is the alarming proportions it has assumed lately. There is no doubt, that the Pakistan Government are now fully alive to the seriousness of the situation, nevertheless, they have so far failed to demonstrate a positive proof of the radical remedies needed to check its further growth.
The problem of unemployment in our country has now become a national problem. It has affected educated classes as well. as uneducated masses, machine-workers as well as the tillers of the soil. Broadly speaking, there are three important phases of unemployment in our country. The first and foremost phase of this problem is the countrywide unemployment among the educated class of people. There are thousands of matriculates and graduates in Pakistan for the absorption of which no adequate demand exists. Palę and spectre-thin, these white collars pass from street to street tapping at various offices from dawn to dusk only to be told that there is no vacancy. The second phase of this problem is industrial unemployment. The post-war slump and de-control the enforcement of prohibition and heavy taxation, the introduction of new mechanical processes and labour-saving devices, frequent strikes and lock-outs and the cycle of recurring depressions in trade and commerce have resulted in thousands of mill and factory laborers being thrown out of employment. The third phase of this problem, equally serious, is agricultural unemployment As nearly 80 percent of our total the population is dependent on agriculture unemployment among fieldworkers has meant misery and hardship to thousands. Our peasants depend wholly on agriculture. They work only four or five months while the rest of the year they sit idle. Moreover, Pakistani agriculture depends upon the vagaries of monsoon. Proverbial speaking, it is “a gamble in rains”. Among the other causes that have contributed towards unemployment among the peasants, mention may be made of their ignorance of modern scientific methods of production, the subdivision and fragmentation of their holdings, their chronic indebtedness, increasing pressure on soil and the gradual decline in the productive power of the land.
There are various causes of unemployment in our country, Post-war conditions, economic depression, deflation, illiteracy and ignorance of modern methods of scientific farming among the peasants, backwardness of agriculture, liberal education which turns out an ever-increasing army of unwanted educated persons neglect of cottage industries, the growing menace of expanding population, low standard of living, excessive industrialization and cut-throat competition–all these factors have been responsible for the wave of unemployment that has swept like a hurricane over Pakistan, causing much distress to all classes of people. We discuss these causes methodically in the following paragraphs.
In the first place, there is a rapid growth of population, both in cities and villages. In fact, the population has been growing for the last twenty-two years all over the world, but Pakistan is the greatest sinner in this respect. Every year thousands of new mouths are born to be fed. In villages as land is limited, agriculture alone is unable to give employment to the increased number, In cities, both educated and uneducated are the victims of unemployment.
The employment among the educated is supposed to be largely due to the wrong system of education that prevails in our country. Every year Pakistani universities produce thousands of graduates who can work only on clerical posts. There is no provision of technical training or vocational instruction. The education imparted to our youths these days is purely literary or theoretical. It does not touch the plane of practical necessities of life. It offers no solution to “the problem of bread and butter”. On the contrary, it makes the students dislike manual work and employment in rural areas. The result is that the educated persons look for absorption in the urban sector, and shift to the congested cities and towns in search of white collar jobs which can absorb only a small fraction of them. The rest either go about unemployed or do whatever they can to keep their body and soul together.
The education imparted to our youths these days is purely literary or theoretical. It does not touch the plane of practical necessities of life. It offers no solution to “the problem of bread and butter”. On the contrary, it makes the students dislike manual work and employment in rural areas. The result is that the educated persons look for absorption in the urban sector, and shift to the congested cities and towns in search of white collar jobs which can absorb only a small fraction of them. The rest either go about unemployed or do whatever they can to keep their body and soul together.
It is believed that the system of large scale production and the industrialization of Pakistan at the cost of her small scale cottage industries have done away with a large number of skilled and unskilled laborers. Two men are now sufficient at the place where ten used to work previously. It is doubtless that the process of industrialization has ruined the cottage industries of Pakistan, with the result that thousands of petty artisans living in the villages have been deprived of their ancestral vocations.
However, the problem of unemployment is not merely an industrial problem. It has a social aspect also. In a society where a few depend upon many, anywhere life is competitive, unemployment is bound to prevail. The profit which is the be-all and end-all of capitalistic enterprise is bound to keep the class of wage-earners, just off the starvation point. In a capitalistic system, the tendency is to oust rivals and competitors, with the result that the rich grow richer and the poor poorer. A stage finally reaches when the society is left with a few Sails and Bauds, and the rest grovel in misery and unemployment.
Unemployment in Pakistan has now become such a complicated economic, social and political issue that unless immediate and effective steps are taken to eliminate its scourge it will eliminate law and order in the country. Half measures or actions of temporary nature will not in any way affect the situation. We have to attack the enemy from all sides with full force. Over-centralization of industries will have to be rectified, the quality of the raw materials improved, technical training imparted to labor, capitál resources mobilized, managerial skill improved and industrial organization generally .galvanized. In short, an integrated programme for implementation and promotion of inter-related economic development policies together with a change in the social pattern of the country can alone be of help to us in this direction.
Before the problem of disguised or semi employment among Pakistani peasants can be solved, methods of cultivation must undergo revolutionary changes. Irrigation facilities must be improved so that agriculture does not remain at the mercy of rains.
Waste tracts of land should be brought under the plow and area under cultivation must be raised by land reclamation schemes. Use of chemical manures, better seeds, a better system of crop rotation, better showing and better drainage are some of the other measures that can be adopted. Above all, the farmers should be taught the importance of co-operation in agriculture. The utilization of co-operative devices for bringing about agricultural improvement can work wonders.
In order to tackle the colossal problem of unemployment among educated people, radical reforms in the modern system of education are needed. We have to overhaul our educational system from top to bottom in order to fit in with the changed conditions of modern life brought about by the rapid growth of science and technology. The swarm of clerks and white collar job-seekers should be permanently eliminated by a system of education the main emphasis of which should be laid on the side of practical and useful living. Our new educational institutions should be in the nature of occupational institutes which prepare our boys and girls for specific vocations in life. There should be the closest co-ordination and integration between our educational and industrial programmes. More rural universities should be established for giving practical and latest training in the art of scientific farming and agriculture to the village folks. All steps should be taken to curb down the common tendency of the students to seek employment in overcrowded cities and dislike to work in villages. They should be made to realize the dignity of labour. It is believed that if education is thus properly planned and made available to all the citizens of the State, there is no reason why unemployment cannot be combated.”
It is rightly considered by our President that Industrial development is our solitary hope to relieve us from the miseries of unemployment. There is no lack of manpower, cheap labor, raw materials and mineral resources in our country, but the misfortunate is that they are not scientifically used for the benefit of common people. If the water of many rivers that flows uselessly into oceans is used scientifically, not only new industries would be carried by the power of electricity but also employment will be provided to many hands. We have to plan and exploit; therefore, our industrial potentiality to the fullest extent to raise the status of the country, and to improve national income and living of the masses.
Along with industrial development, there should also be a development of our rural cottage industries and native handicraft. In a well-balanced economy, the two should be coordinated in a useful purpose. Today, we may encourage not only spinning and weaving but also other industries and handicrafts which are suitable for different areas having regard to the necessary raw material, labor supply and the capital resources available. It is hoped that if the government makes provision for the guidance and training of rural artisans, for making raw materials available to them at cheaper rates, for better marketing facilities by periodical arrangements for holding industrial markets and exhibitions, a large number of villagers will be prevented from flocking into industrial centers in search of employment.
In order to encourage national industries and the consumption of native goods, the government should change its policy of foreign trade and commerce. Imports of foreign goods in our country should be discouraged as far as possible by imposing heavy excise duties on them. Our exports of finished goods must be facilitated at all costs to capture the markets abroad. As a result of these measures, our industries would flourish and employ more skilled and unskilled laborers in order to meet the growing demand of the public for their products.
Above all, the capitalistic system of our society should be replaced by a socialist pattern. The problem of unemployment is inherent in a capitalistic system, for the view before the capitalist is never national welfare but his personal profit. He would never consider the needs of the nation but run only those industries which are calculated to bring him the maximum of profit with the minimum of expenditure. Moreover, when a slum or depression comes in trade, he closes down his industries at a moment’s notice. The result is that thousands are thrown out of jobs and are left to starve on the roadside or to live on government doles. War is the only remedy for unemployment, known to that bankrupt system, but it is a remedy which is much more terrible than the disease itself.
Hence, one of the greatest concerns of the government at present should be to provide gainful employment to every able-bodied citizen of Pakistan. It is a constitutional obligation on the part of the government, for one of the main directive principles of our Constitution is that “the citizens have the right to an adequate means of livelihood.” All our plans and projects of national development, if they do not take into account the question of poverty and unemployment, are bound to be looked with disfavor by the public and end in failure. To thousands of our unemployed countrymen, the National Plan can have some meaning only if it gives them bread and work. Instead of asking for “Light, more Light,” they want us to provide them with Employment.
However, it is a happy sign that our government has begun paying some serious attention to this question. In the Fourth Five Year Plan, it is hoped that there would be employed at least for more people. Various projects and Community Development schemes have also been carried out successfully to a great extent, Nevertheless, for the full success of the different plans and projects launched by the leaders of our country, public co-operation is very essential. The trouble in our country is that people expect the government to do everything. The man in the street wants that our Government sitting in Islamabad should go on issuing orders on paper and like ‘Alladin’s Lamp, great and good things should be created out of nothing. We forget that if we do not do the work, the work will not be done. This generation of ours is condemned to hard labor. It is only through patient, untiring constructive labor on the part of the rulers and the ruled alike that the solution of the unemployment problem in a backward country like Pakistan can come through.